Published May 5, 2011
I had just gotten home from having preached at Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton on Sunday evening. I had changed clothes and sat down to relax for an hour or so before retiring for the evening when the message came across the bottom of our television screen stating that a breaking news story was about to be released from the White House.
My wife and I began to speculate as to what kind of breaking news story we might anticipate. Were more tornadoes headed for Georgia? Had there been an attempt on the president’s life? Had there been another terrorist attack? Had Iran or North Korea launched a nuclear missile?
Then we heard that the president would be making an announcement relative to Osama bin Laden. We waited and waited. Finally, the president walked down the red carpet in the East Room of the White House to announce that bin Laden had been killed by the American military’s Special Forces and that “justice has been done.”
The President stated, “For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s leader and symbol. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
The next morning The Wall Street Journal reported, “The development capped a manhunt of almost a decade for the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks that left 3,000 people dead and dramatically altered U. S. foreign policy and the nation’s sense of security.”
A US official indicated bin Laden’s body has been buried at sea and was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition that a Muslim should be buried within 24 hours of death.
Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, the official said. Even Saudi Arabia, bin Laden’s country of birth, refused to accept the body of the arch-terrorist for burial. So the US decided that a burial at sea would be both logical and appropriate.
The news of bin Laden’s death ignited an outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House shouting
At the Ground Zero site jubilant crowds were waving American flags, cheering, shouting, and singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked their horns deep into the night.
Morning newspapers from coast to coast had headlines that emblazoned the news of bin Laden’s death. Consider some of those headlines:
“Americans Kill bin Laden” - The Houston Chronicle
“U.S. kills bin Laden a decade after 9/11” – The Charlotte Observer
“Bin Laden is Dead” – The New York Times
“Osama bin Laden Killed: ‘Justice Has Been Done’” – The Washington Post
Osama bin Laden, Terror Mastermind, Is Reported Dead” – The Wall Street Journal
“Rot in Hell” - New York Daily News
“The Butcher of 9/11 is DEAD – The San Francisco Examiner”
“Got Him (Shot Him)” - The Saint Petersburg Times
CNN reported the comments of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who stated, “It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama bin Laden is dead. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless in tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”
However, not everyone was cheering the death of the mass murder. On Monday, Hamas condemned the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior”
Radical Islamic websites praised bin Laden as a “shaheed” or martyr. One headline asserted, “The Lion of Jihad was killed in a fierce battle.” One poster proclaimed, “Teary eyes and sad hearts go out to you, the dearest and most noble of people.”
But how should we feel about bin Laden’s death? First of all, I agree with President Obama and echo his words, “Justice has been done.” Proverbs 28:4-5 states, “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.” Only lawless men would praise the kingpin of Al Qaeda. And only the wicked would think he should be given a free pass for his evil deeds.
But should we, as followers of Christ, rejoice over the death of this diabolical villian? Consider Ezekiel 33:11: “Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (and bin Laden would certainly be numbered among the wicked), should we?
Furthermore, Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-33).
Here is another consideration: There was a time when I was an enemy of God. Paul wrote, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom.5:10). Christ died for his enemies.
Although I am grateful that justice has been executed and that Osama’s reign of terror has ended, it would be very hypocritical for me to rejoice over bin Laden’s death when I was once in the same general category as him – an unredeemed sinner, an enemy of God.
It may be a fleshly thought, but I am quite certain that I will rejoice in the day that bin Laden bows before Christ and admits that Jesus is Lord. Sadly, his acknowledgement of Christ’s Lordship will not be for salvation, but as a condemned, unredeemed sinner for eventually, “every knee (will) bow … and every tongue (will) confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
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